Working From Home

Do Work at Home Employees Need to Be Resilient

Work-from-home positions require specific minimal equipment.  In most cases you will be dedicating your own equipment to be used during your working shift time.  Your hiring company will give you a list of equipment required to perform your job duties.  This list will cover everything from the Operating System installed on your machine to the speed of your Network and more.  Check out Home Office to see the minimal home office equipment needed to work from home in any capacity.


Working from home has its fair share of good and bad aspects just like any job.  If you're hoping for less frustration dealing with co-workers, customers, project managers and supervisors, you will be disappointed to find out those frustrations are persistent even in the work-at-home world.  These struggles are real with the added caveat of them unfolding virtually and via phone communication. 

Depending on your preferred work environment and work processes, every job has its pros and cons.  Working from home really does require you be of the mindset that you do not rely on the physical presence of others to stay motivated.  You really do have to be able to motivate yourself to stay on task.


If you do not feel very comfortable at the surface level of technical troubleshooting of the most common computer issues, working from home may not be for you.  As you work at home, you will encounter some form of technical issue to overcome.  You'll need to be a person of patience and understanding when dealing with technical issues because some of these issues will happen unexpectedly during your actual shift with customers on the line with you.  No matter what, Murphy's Law will always be part of your shift.


If your hiring company has loaned you a computer, you the employee will usually not have the basic permissions to update applications screaming to be updated; like the browser you're using.  That loaned computer will be so "locked" down every update will have to be performed by the remote IT department.  Forget about being able to set preferences such as how you handle notifications etc.  The most common issues you will have are created by an upgrade in an application that the IT department of the hiring company pushes out remotely.  These upgrades tend to have cascading affects into additional applications needed to perform your job duties.


The biggest hurdle to overcome is the digital divide.  Work at home employers hiring customer-facing employees require their work at home agents to have download speeds of 5 - 10 Mbs and upload speeds of 3 - 5 Mbs.  The reality is that many areas have the infrastructure for Gigabit internet connections but the service just isn't available to residential users.  While you may have a high-speed internet connection and even one calling itself Gigabit, you will never see the full Gigabit of speed.


You'll also need to have a POTS-line dedicated to answering customer-facing calls.  POTS- lines are considered old technology but is usually available from a ISP.  ISPs are doing their best to abandon this technology in favor of offering only digital subscriber lines because supporting POTS lines has more overhead costs compared to digital lines.  What this means is when your POTS line goes down it is not viewed as a priority repair service job.


Metrics are an unavoidable part of customer-facing work at home jobs.  These are guidelines built into your quality of customer service and include customer feedback.  Metrics are hard to meet 100% in order to be in compliance with a company's desired level of positive customer feedback simply because there are customers who just want to see the world burn no matter how you go above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service.  You will also encounter the person who thinks big business owes them something just because the business is big.  To make things worse, when you ask any supervisor to explain the break-down of the metrics applied to your level of customer service quality they all have a different answer.


Sadly, as a new hire into a customer-facing position, trainers will never bring up the metrics topic.  You are then misled, by omission, to believe your position is straightforward and you are simply doing your job as trained.  In many cases, your trainer will promise you that there is nothing negative that can impact your job as well as your ability to advance in your career with this company.  When you get into "production" of taking live calls, this is where you find out about the metrics and their overall impact on your job.  You are made to feel like you are learning to do your job all over again during production.


Team meetings and coaching sessions are typically a weekly event between you and your supervisor.  The metrics vs your level of customer service quality previously mentioned are then dissected by your supervisor and used to point any failings towards you, regardless of the context of any negative customer feedback.  You'll never be at 100% positive for metrics but supervisors will continually promise you can reach 100% and then go on to talk about pathways to advancement based on those unattainable metrics.  Even more insulting, these same supervisors all swear they started in the same customer-facing position you were hired to perform while at the same time showing no empathy or consideration of how the metrics are completely and unfairly applied.


You will be balancing nagging communications blasted out to you by supervisors while you are on calls with customers.  These are delivered to you by some form of online messaging system.  Supervisors will message and nag you in very subtle ways regarding some aspect of the job you are not doing correctly or even schedule meetings in such a way that the message is sent to you outside the expected message system without any kind of "heads up" sent; so you miss it and then are blamed for not seeing the message.  Some supervisors take no responsibility for ensuring everyone received their message.  Quite often, you're expected to scramble to accommodate supervisor impromptu, requests which often ends in you being made to feel inept at no fault of your own.

Pros of Customer-Facing Work at Home Jobs

The pros of working at home are numerous and usually lend themselves to be favorable for people who prefer to live without office politics and without smarmy co-workers willing to throw each other under a bus to get ahead.


People who can motivate themselves and keep themselves motivated thrive in a work at home environment.  The ability to skip the tediousness of driving back and forth to a job and upkeep of a vehicle can be both a positive note for many work at home employees.  If you're someone who cares about your carbon footprint, working from home will help you stay within that core value.


There can be a certain amount of mental and emotional relief when one does not have to deal with the nuances of dressing to impress others as working at home dictates a more relaxed form of dressing.  No longer will you have to remember dressing to colors and perceived power status'.  Dressing comfortably tends to mean at-home workers find another positive work-life balance; making them more productive.  For those who feel they get sick more often than others due to something being passed around in the usual job environment, working from will eliminate that issue.


Working from home allows you to focus on your task and customer if working in a customer-facing position.  Working from home means you do not have to deal mentally with the distraction of co-worker's personal technology they bring to the office due to their technological addictions.  Nor will you be treated like the "bad guy" for asking someone to use common sense and show respect to others while using their personal technology while working around you and their co-workers.

Pros and Cons of Project-Based Work at Home Jobs

Project-based work at home jobs are fairly straight forward in that you are accepting tasks to be completed; following instructions or guidelines.  While there are some cons related to these positions, the cons tend to be fairly balanced with the pros related to these jobs. Since you will not be working directly with customers or supervisors and a rigid metric as mentioned with customer-facing positions, you will find this kind of work less stressful when it comes to managing people-based communication because this kind of job isn't reliant on positive or negative customer feedback.


There is one key con and that is the rate of pay.  Project-based work means project-based pay.  This kind of work is hard to weave into a full-time job with a consistent paycheck.  You will find yourself taking on many of these jobs just to earn minimum wage.  While this kind of work does lend itself to be very accommodating to people needing a flexible job, this kind of work should be thought of as "additional income."  It can be great for those looking for a little money "on the side" but should not be relied on as a sole way to earn an income.  You do not have the ability to negotiate any part of project and how it's built.  You can only choose to accept and complete the task associated with it. Or, dismiss it and look for the next project that might be more suitable to your liking.

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